EFJ Supports Journalists in Berlin as Foreign Investors Setup Local Dominant Position

Today the European Federation of Journalists expressed its public support to the journalists of the Berliner Verlagsgruppe who have expressed concern over the purchase of group by the investing company Mecom & VSS, lead by British media businessman David Montgomery.

Following the decision on Friday 25 November of the German anti-cartel department to allow the selling of the media group, the works council gathering unions and staff representatives of the Berliner Kurier,Tip, the Berliner Adendblatt and the Berliner Zeitung adopted a statement to express concern over the plans.

“We fear that the entrance of Mr. Montgomery in the German media market is not very good news for colleagues in Berlin”, said EFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “In the name of profit making, Mr. Montgomery has undertaken severe and brutal staff cuts in British newspapers over the past years. He has also severely undermined union recognition. Despite good words and promises, such a move in Germany is likely to mean cuts and profit making that will harm to quality journalism and reduce working conditions for all media workers”.

Berlin journalists share this view. “We fear that the group becomes a simple instrument to create income”, said the statement of the works council, “and that the substance of the general activities would be lost”.

“The EFJ and its German affiliates, DJU Ver.di and DJV, will closely follow the evolution of this takeover”, said Aidan White. “We are open for dialogue with Mr. Montgomery in the future, however we expect the current collective agreements to be respected during the transfer of ownership and we will be particularly vigilant about any item dealing with redundancies”.

The deal is planned to come into effect on 1st December 2005.

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The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in more than 40 countries